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Media Release

July 31 2007

Seeing past modern monsters

Public lecture looks at how we view Islam post 9/11

Public lecture looks at modern constructions of "monsters"With a gargoyle on every turret and depictions of the eternal tortures of hell in every church, men and women of the middle ages could be in no doubt about what threatened them – monsters were constructed all around them, literally.

And throughout history, depictions of the enemy as something apart from the dominant culture have been manufactured to garner maximum effect in the politics of power, fear and persuasion.

In his inaugural lecture for UniSA’s Hawke Research Institute for Sustainable Societies, Professor Pal Ahluwalia, UniSA Research Chair in post-colonial studies, looks at the world post 9/11 and how the Islamic terrorist has been constructed as the 21st century “monster”.

The lecture, Afterlives of Post-colonialism :Reflections on theory post 9/11, will be held in the Bradley Forum of the Hawke Building, City West campus at 4 pm August 1 and examines how knowledge about Islam has been constructed and used to project the image of terrorist “monster”.

“Post 9/11 we know that around the world there were attacks on innocent Islamic people, and people who ‘looked’ Islamic and even people who had no connection with Islam but for some simplistic reason were assumed to be,” Prof Ahluwalia says.

“Assembling stereotypes of a group and defining them as different or apart from the dominant cultural construct, is a card that has been played over and again throughout history.

“It is important that we examine how knowledge is constructed in an academic context and how that may fuel or starve these extremes.

“What I hope to put forward in this lecture is that there is an ethical imperative to produce non-coercive knowledge.

“This is challenging – we are all influenced by our culture and experience - but it is vital if we are to contribute to more truthful understandings, that we as educators and researchers examine how we construct knowledge, what influences us and how we can find an ethical stance that will deliver non-coercive knowledge.”


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